"Let us never forget that authentic power is service." - Pope Francis
As we enter into the time of the Easter or Paschal Triduum
, the holiest days of the liturgical year, we have an opportunity to reflect, remember, and relive the great redemptive love of Christ, not only in prayer, but also through how we live daily this love. Day after day since his election, Pope Francis has offered us witness of how to live this love in the simple acts of our everyday life. Because what he is doing is seemingly different from the past, his actions are considered dramatic. They are, however, the non-dramatic, counter-cultural, and normal actions of an apostolic person, one who lives the love of Christ concretely in service to others
- as Jesus did when he washed the feet of the Apostles in the Upper Room. As bearers of the love of Christ to others, we join in their suffering, their pain, their rejection - as we unite with Jesus in his suffering and death on the Cross. Yet, we live in hope that the love of the Father which conquered sin and death and raised Jesus up on Easter morning gives us hope to continue our sharing of the love of Christ to all, no matter what the cost.
Please know that we are keeping you in prayer during this special time. If you have any special intentions that you would like us to pray for during the Holy Triduum, please send them to us
) and they will be remembered.
The entire Catholic Apostolate Center team wishes you a prayerful Paschal Triduum and a blessed Easter season!
May the charity of Christ urge you on! Fr. Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., D. Min, Director of the Catholic Apostolate Center wrote this piece for the Holy Week edition of the Catholic Apostolate Center Newsletter. Contact us to sign up to receive our news letter!
The Paschal what? Ever wonder what the Triduum is and when and how we celebrate it?Here are a few great resources to check out!
1. 18 Questions and Answers on the Paschal Triduum:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided an excellent resource for us seeking a greater understanding of the importance of the Pashcal Triduum, which takes place this week. Questions range from simply, "When does the Triduum begin and end?" to inquires on Good Friday devotionals and liturgical norms during this time. With clear and direct responses to each of the proposed questions that commonly arise during Holy Week, it's a great resource no matter the depth of your theological background.
2. Holy Week reflection:
A brief reflection on the meaning of Holy Week
by Fr. Thomas Roscia, C.S.B of Salt and Light Ministries.
3. Holy Week in Two Minutes:
A resource of Busted Halo ministries
, this "Holy Week in 2 Minutes"
clip is a brief explanation of the importance of the events of this week in the life of the Catholic Church. An excellent resource that's ideal for sharing via social media such as Facebook and Twitter, it's worth 2 minutes of your time! Resources were gathered by David Burkey, Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center
Each year it seems that just as soon as we’ve concluded the joyous season of Christmas, we find ourselves putting away the carols and nativity scene just to replace them with our Friday fish sandwiches and talk of our Lenten sacrifices. At first glance it may seem that the coming of Lent each year calls for us to “put away” our joy. After all it’s a season of penance to bring ourselves closer to Christ through his suffering – not exactly the definition of joy. But is it possible to still have joy during this season of prayer and reflection?
Recently I read Fr. James Martin’s book, Between Heaven and Mirth
, in which he discusses how joy and our spiritual life don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Particularly he proposes ways in which we can incorporate joy into our prayer life, suggestions that we could put into practice this Lent.
First and foremost we must be willing to bring our joy to the Lord through prayer. Just as we might call up a good friend with exciting news, so also should we cultivate that same desire to share our daily joys with the Lord. Although we may be in Lent, our daily lives aren’t devoid of joyous occasions. What made you laugh today? What was your “high point” of the day? When I was growing up my family would sit around the dinner table sharing our “high point,” or our favorite thing that happened to us that day. Forcing myself to remember something good was always easier some days than others but it reminded me there was always something for which I could give thanks.
Additionally, beyond just recalling joyous moments, we can use our prayer to think back to the people, experiences and memories that perhaps we may take for granted. For myself, I can far too easily forget to recognize the blessings of being able to attend a university and pursue a degree, as well as the tremendous influence of my parents. Surely my years here in college and the lessons my parents instilled in me have also given rise to joy in my life; it’s just not something I always remember on a daily basis. Even more importantly, in remembering these people and experiences we may take for granted we develop a greater sense of gratitude and realize that our joy doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but because of these blessings that God has given each of us.
In this we see that joy is much more than just sheer happiness. Rather, it is a reflection of our prayer life and relationship with God. As the French philosopher Leon Bloy once said, “Joy is the most infallible sign of God’s presence.” The secular world often views joy as synonymous with simple emotional happiness, yet, according to Fr. Martin, the Christian definition of joy is happiness in God
and revolves around our relationship with Him. This is precisely what allows us to have joy in the midst of suffering, and yes, even Lent.
Although at its outset Lent may not seem an occasion for joy, it is an occasion to deepen our prayer life and our internal joy - our happiness in God. In this prayer we can develop a greater sense of gratitude for both the blessings in our lives and, especially this Lent, an appreciation for Christ’s Paschal mystery, all of which can lead to a richer relationship with our Lord. St. Paul sums it up best in his Letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center
Vacations with my family have the unique ability to be both one of the most relaxing and stressful times of the year. Being one of 14 people, including my six nieces and nephews ranging from infancy to 10 years old, in one house for a week can be a little overwhelming at times. While we may enjoy birthday parties and holidays together - spending a week with each other under one roof - well that really puts us to the test! But as families tend to do, mine usually teaches me some of my greatest lessons and this past summer’s vacation together was no exception.
Throughout the week my parents and I established a morning routine of attending daily mass at the local parish. After a few mornings of watching us head out the door together, while still chomping on his cereal in pajamas, my 8-year-old nephew asked if he could come with us the next day. So the following morning he eagerly got up, dressed and went to mass with us. However, looking back, I don’t know which he enjoyed more, attending mass with us or visiting the religious store afterwards and picking out a “treat”! Nonetheless, when most 8-year-olds don’t necessarily have “Going to Church” at the top of their to-do list (especially when it’s not an obligatory Sunday visit), I was pleasantly surprised by his eagerness to come.
As I mentioned earlier, while relaxing, these vacations can be rather trying and throughout the week I found myself learning lessons of patience. Sometimes we may consider ourselves very patient people until we are given a new scenario that challenges our assumptions. This may involve a four year old constantly asking us to play with her, someone who used our bath towel, or little hands always dragging us in the direction of the nearest sand castle. But as the week progressed I learned to hold my tongue and smile, and by the end of the week what used to bother me really wasn’t so bad anymore and my previous complaints seemed trivial. It gave me a new appreciation for St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Love is patient”, and made me realize this doesn’t only apply to newly-weds!
As we embark on this Year of Faith I carry with me these lessons that I’ve learned from my family members, my very first teachers of the faith (CCC 1653).
This vacation with my family taught me that the New Evangelization really does begin at home. Through the examples we set and, likewise, the lessons our families can teach each of us, there is an authentic communication of the joy and love that is our faith.
I once read a sign that said, “You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.” In light of the lessons they taught me, this is indeed true. I love my family and perhaps I just needed a little reminder of the great gift they are to me. David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center
When the word “Vocation” is mentioned, most often people equate it to Godly calls to the priesthood or consecrated religious life. Some think of their own conceptions of God’s calling to this life while others, having ruled themselves out of the running for religious life, may consider their vocation decision already made. Still, others consider “Vocation” to mean any of the “Big V” or apostolic vocations – marriage, religious or the consecrated single life.
Now, instead consider the phrase “Personal Vocation”. This may not bring much to mind, as it’s not typically a widely used term, but it is one that applies to everyone.
So what is it? According to Germain Grisez and Russell Shaw in their book “Personal Vocation”, it is the realization of what God is calling you to at this very moment. For example, the vocation of a student doesn’t begin once he or she graduates with a certain degree, rather, that time spent studying should be used to discern how one could be the student God has called him or her to be.
Grisez and Shaw propose that the same is true for discerning our apostolic vocations. From the time we are young, if the only emphasis is about deciding the state of life that God has called us to, then once we commit ourselves to marriage or religious life, we are left asking “What now?” Any married couple, priest or religious brother or sister would probably tell you that just making those vows doesn’t make life a cake walk, and in fact, each day brings a renewed commitment to the promises they made. If each day we approach our apostolic vocation as a means
to fulfill our personal vocation, we will always find ourselves – no matter our state of life – continually working to fulfill God’s plan for our lives, the ultimate goal. As Blessed John Henry Newman once said:
“For in truth we are not called once only, but many times; all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterwards also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still…He calls us again and again, in order to justify us again and again, and again and again, and more, to sanctify and glorify us.”
A personal vocation is not about allowing past decisions to deter us from the glory that God calls each of us to, even if we may have previously neglected Him. Our previous decisions and actions, good or bad, have all been in preparation for this very moment in which God can use each of us.
If we just take the time to listen for His voice we will hear His call. How is he calling you?David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center.
Just a short week and a half ago, I felt like I was on top of the world! I could sleep in without missing class, I didn't have to wear shower shoes, and was treated to delicious home cooking; yes, it was spring break! However, that week off from school seemed to pass too quickly, as it always does, and soon I found myself back at school, where a mountainous pile of work awaited me. The joy that came with the start of break, a result of time off from an often busy and consuming world of commitments, had quickly vanished, and was replaced by the stress of things to be done.
Today I came across a chapter, aptly titled “Joy”, in a book I’m reading by Cardinal Dolan. Here he gave some suggestions as to what actually helps us attain a true and lasting joy, some of which took me by surprise. He first proposes that the source of all joy is peace. Looking through an exterior lens these seem to be mutually exclusive, particularly when the thought of someone who is quiet and peaceful is juxtaposed with the image of a jovial, fun-loving and joyful person. But Cardinal Dolan is referring to an inner peace that gives rise to a genuine exterior joy and happiness. This peace is rooted in the conviction that God loves us and, in return, we reciprocate this overwhelming love through our actions and interior life.
Knowing and accepting this great love can be a challenge, and is something I still struggle with on a regular basis. A wise religious sister recently told me how we must first let God love us, even with our imperfections, before we attempt to change other people – a tendency of perfectionists such as myself. How right she was! This is often a major stumbling block in finding inner peace, which ultimately leads us to genuine joy.
True joy can come about through trust in God’s plan, but requires a complete surrender of ourselves and our desires. As cliché as it may sound, Cardinal Dolan suggests this simple ordering of our lives to reach this joy:
J => Jesus
O => Others
Y => Yourself
When we are ordered this way, and place ourselves last in the line of priorities, our happiness no longer relies on promotions, accolades, or spring breaks, but from a much deeper source that doesn’t fade away despite busy schedules and stressors.
Lastly, Cardinal Dolan highlights an important distinction between joy and pleasure. C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is never in our power, and pleasure is. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted joy would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasure in the world”.
I realized that, while going to the beach in Cozumel, cruising the Caribbean, or simply sleeping in can all be good things and may bring me pleasure, these things will never be able to bring me real joy.
Perhaps we can all take a “Spring Break”, not in the sense of a vacation (although I’m sure none of you would object to that), but rather use Holy Week to take a break and reflect on what motivates our Joy. Is it an inner peace within ourselves and an acceptance of God’s immense love, exemplified in the Paschal Mystery that we will soon be celebrating? Or, is it based on the next compliment, promotion, or good grade? What do we need to change in order to reach this true Joy?
Fortunately, this joy is lasting; it is a joy that won’t leave you sunburned or yearning for more in a week’s time.David Burkey is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) Student Leadership National Conference at the invitation of one of our campus FOCUS missionaries. The distinguishing feature of this conference was that it was geared toward student leaders with a special emphasis on equipping those present for engaging in the New Evangelization.
Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS kicked off the weekend with a roll-up-our-sleeves and get to work talk that laid out the mission before us. He painted the bleak reality, presenting the Catholic population of the United States. Although 77 million strong, research has found that only about 22% attend mass on a weekly basis and even fewer support the Church’s teaching on procreation and life as found in Humane Vitae. However, Curtis’s call to action urged us as active members of the Church’s young adult laity to help increase this small but powerful number of Catholics. It’s not enough to simply increase the existing 77 million, rather we need to take the 77 million and, through evangelization, help to form new apostles who are more learned in – and ready to spread – their faith.
This is all well and good, we may say, but that’s a lofty goal even for the average engaged Catholic layperson. Therefore, it’s good to understand this entire New Evangelization movement. Many of us are familiar with the term evangelization but not exactly sure what makes it “New.” Fr. Michael Keating shared three thoughts explaining precisely why this New Evangelization is just that… “New.”
First, we must understand this as a re-evangelization that is rather new in the light of the entirety of Church history. The Church has been evangelizing since Christ himself walked the earth, but this concept of revisiting those who have heard the Gospel message and in return have either grown indifferent toward it or outright rejected it, can prove much more difficult. As C.S. Lewis once said, “It’s the difference between a man attempting to woo a young maiden and a man attempting to reanimate a relationship with a cynical divorcee,” which, unfortunately, aptly describes the challenge before many of us.
Secondly, Fr. Keating noted that this evangelization has to happen in a different context than it has throughout history because the Church is no longer mainstream. Throughout the centuries, evangelization was made easier because the teachings of Christ permeated the culture and the very way that people lived their lives. In the span of Church history, this is considered a very “new” problem.
Lastly, the moral and human truths the Church teaches have never before been under attack as they are now. Some of these are direct attacks and others are more subtle, as they have existed in our culture for many decades and have now became mainstream.
The only way to help turn this around and face these new challenges head on is through building and promoting a culture in which the moral truths and teachings of the Church are promoted. Fr. Keating emphasized this change, saying that the deciding factor of the success of the New Evangelization through this change of culture lies within the very source and summit of everything we are as Catholics – the Mass. Our ability to be engaged in the Mass and submit ourselves to the liturgy so that it may form us needs to be our primary concern in building ourselves as apostles.
It is in the Mass that we are united with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, including all the saints who have gone before us. We should use the saints as examples of how to be evangelizers, and they should serve as our inspiration in our task ahead. Jesus didn’t choose the most talented or skilled rhetorical speakers to be his apostles – take Peter and Andrew who we recently heard about in the Gospel reading. They weren’t scholars of the ancient Jewish law or customs – just fishermen. Yet it all started with them and ten other humble apostles as they evangelized throughout the lands and, as St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit” (1 Cor 2:4).
This is certainly reassuring to someone like myself, who is no theologian and writing a blog post on the Church. But, perhaps, that’s just how God intended to use me. And perhaps He is just waiting to use you, too.David Burkey is Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center.